Present and Past Participles

The present or past participle is an incomplete verb.

The ending for the present participle is -ing: walking, "talking story."

The regular ending for the past participle is -ed: walked, "talked story."

Irregular Past Participle Endings

  • Here is a partial list of irregular endings.

  • They will help you to identify past participle phrases.

-ade-en-it-one-ound-ung
-aught-ent-old-orn-own-unk
-eld-ewn-ome-ost-um-ut

A participle phrase that stands alone creates a fragment.

  • A participle phrase may have a participle and a subject.

    Example: (present participle)

    Members of Hawaii's rainbow population sharing stories about their diverse cultures.

    Example:(past participle)

    Asian immigrants in the last century pushed by hardships in their homelands to come to America in search of a better life.

  • A participle phrase may have a participle and no subject.

    Example: (present participle)

    Being an actor in the role of making history.

    Example: (past participle)

    Asked to become vocal and visible.

A participle phrase will not be a fragment if a helping verb is added to it.

    Example: (present participle)

    Members of Hawaii's rainbow population enjoyed sharing stories about their diverse cultures.

    Example: (past participle)

    Asian immigrants in the last century were pushed by hardships in their homelands to come to America in search of a better life.

A participle phrase will not be a fragment if it is added onto a main clause.

    Example: (present participle)

    Being an actor in the role of making history, each member of the community had an important story to tell.

    Example: (past participle)

    Asked to become vocal and visible, plantation laborers felt a need to talk about life in the cane fields.

Words that end in -ing are not always present participles.

  • A word that ends in -ing can be the subject or gerund of a sentence or clause.

    Example:

    At first, coming to America meant looking for a new beginning.

  • A word that ends in -ing can be an adjective or noun modifier in a sentence.

    Example:

    Thinking about themselves as temporary migrants with a desire to earn money and return to their homelands, many people ended up staying and sent for their wives and children (in spite of harsh living conditions).

Although there is a present and a past participle verb form, the half verbs do not indicate the tense you are writing in.

The first verb word that follows the subject determines the tense of the clause.

  • As an illustration, let's examine the verb go.

  • It has a present participle going and an irregular past participle gone.

  • In the first three examples, the present participle going is used in sentences that are written in past, present, and future tenses.

    Examples:

    past tense:

    In 1835, a young man from Boston by the name of William Hooper was going to change the face of Hawaii's landscape by cultivating sugar for profit.

    present tense:

    Reading about how men and women from other countries were hired to work for Hawaii's sugar industry is probably going to cause you to see store-bought sugar in a different light.

    future tense:

    You will be going back in time to see how nineteenth-century working conditions led up to your ability to go to a store to buy granulated crystals of sugar to sweeten the foods you eat.

  • In the next three examples, the past participle gone is used in sentencesthat are written in past, present, and future tenses.

    Examples:

    past tense:

    In 1877, an Island newspaper had gone public to say that sugar was "King" in Hawaii.

    present tense:

    For the past 120 years, the Islands have gone out of their way to recruit workers from China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines to supply the "King's" insatiable appetite for a constant supply of laborers.

    future tense:

    Throughout the years, the plantation managers will not have gone through an equal number of Kanakas or Hawaiian laborers because they preferred to survive on fish they could catch or crops they could grow on their own piece of land.